This small charming island church has been a gathering point for islanders for centuries. When visiting the little island in Horsens Fjord, you should treat yourself to a visit to Denmark's second smallest church, where the uniquely special island atmosphere is evident.
Denmark's second smallest church
How big of a church does one really need on an island with just over 100 residents? Much like many other Danish island churches, Hjarnø Church stands out from mainland churches. The church is both newer and smaller than the East Jutland village churches, which is a good reflection of island life where grandeur isn’t man-made but exists in the nature around us.
Dating the church precisely is difficult, but it is likely from the early 1400s, similar to the church on the neighboring island, Alrø. The reason for both churches being from this period probably lies in the fact that during this time, the Danish state made the coasts more secure against pirates. Before this, the area was difficult to inhabit due to pirate activity.
To this day, Hjarnø remains its own parish – one of the country's smallest. Despite the island being only a five-minute sail from the mainland, there is still a strong sense of independent character on Hjarnø.
About the church
Hjarnø Church is located just a few meters from the coast and is surrounded by a small cemetery. The small church lacks ornateness, grandeur, and pomp but is rich in charm and unique local identity. Both the choir, nave, and porch are in Gothic style, typical of the time when the church was built. However, in the 1800s, the church was hit by a fire that led to a major necessary renovation. Much of the church's interior dates from this time. The oldest item in the church is the granite baptismal font, dating back to the 1100s. It is uncertain where the font originated, but it could suggest that there was a church on the island even then.
Uniquely, hanging in the church's nave is a Viking ship as a reference to the many finds from the Viking Age made on the island. A couple of hundred meters from the church, you can, for example, see the stone circles from the Viking Age, Kalvestenene.
Want to visit Hjarnø Church?
Hjarnø Church is open to the public during the daytime but may be in use for church services. You are welcome to step inside the church when visiting the island. When you disembark from the ferry at Hjarnø, you can see the church on your right-hand side. Just walk up to the end of the road and turn right – you'll arrive at the church.
If you wish to learn about the church from a local, we recommend a tractor tour with Hjarnø Traktorture, where you make a stop at the church along the way.
Adjacent to Hjarnø Church is a campsite where you are welcome to stay overnight.
Hjarnø is situated in Horsens Fjord, only a five-minute sail from Snaptun on the south side of the fjord. The Hjarnø ferry operates more than 30 times a day, and the island is small enough for an easy walk around. Therefore, it's an ideal destination for a day trip. During the summer period, a bicycle ferry sails to and from the neighboring island, Alrø.